Which Should You Hire: In-House Marketing or an Agency?

Navigating the ever-shifting landscape of marketing is a constant challenge. When faced with a critical push, a big question arises. Should you build an in-house marketing team from the ground up, or should you partner with a full-service marketing agency?

A Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) will understand their company’s strengths and gaps in skillsets when it comes to marketing. They will have to weigh their decision of in-house marketing vs. marketing agency based on several critical factors. 

Full-service agencies offer an attractive blend of expertise and flexibility. They boast seasoned veterans across disciplines like digital and traditional marketing, creative production, and search engine marketing (SEM). They’re hungry to understand your brand and craft a bespoke marketing plan that ignites your marketing campaign. Plus, they handle the nitty-gritty, freeing up your internal team for core business functions.

On the other hand, cultivating an in-house marketing team fosters a deep understanding of your brand DNA. Your team members live and breathe your mission, becoming brand ambassadors who intimately connect with your audience. Building a team allows for greater control and agility, enabling you to adapt quickly to market shifts.

For CMOs, the decision to enlist the services of an agency or build an in-house team is nuanced. Striking the right hybrid balance between the two approaches often emerges as the optimal solution.


An employee of a Chicago full-service marketing agency


Here are some considerations when deciding to partner with a full-service agency:  

Access to Resources:

Agencies have access to a range of advanced tools, technologies, and resources. It may not make sense for individual companies to invest in these. They include Demand Side Platforms, critical channel relationships, market research data, analytics software, and creative production facilities. These tools and resources can enhance the performance efforts of your campaigns without adding budget.

Media Cost Efficiencies:

Outsourcing to an advertising agency can be cost-effective compared to maintaining an in-house marketing department. Agencies often have established relationships with vendors, allowing them to negotiate better rates for media placements and other services. They also benefit from efficiencies of scale, which translates to cost savings in your marketing budget.

Scalability and Flexibility:

Outsourcing to an advertising agency provides scalability, allowing businesses to adjust their advertising efforts according to changing needs and market conditions. Agencies can quickly ramp up or down resources as required, providing greater flexibility.

Objectivity and Fresh Perspective:

External agencies bring a fresh perspective to advertising campaigns and strategies. They can offer unbiased insights and innovative ideas that may not be readily apparent to internal teams who are too close to the brand.


A marketing team works in a conference room


Specialized Expertise:

Advertising agencies typically employ professionals with diverse skillsets in digital marketing, design, copywriting, media planning, and more. Leveraging their expertise can result in more effective and creative campaigns tailored to specific target audiences. Having a team of experts with a range of skills across both traditional and digital media will insure you can bring any idea to life and optimize for effective marketing. 

Risk Mitigation:

By outsourcing advertising functions to professionals, businesses can mitigate the risks associated with trial-and-error approaches. Agencies have experience navigating different market landscapes and can help minimize the likelihood of costly mistakes.

The optimal choice may hinge on these key factors:

Campaign Scope and Duration:

Is there a sense of urgency around your marketing needs? If so, a full-service agency can offer swift execution and specialized expertise. Or is it a longer, more strategic initiative? In that case, an in-house team can likely effectively foster brand consistency and deeper customer engagement.

Budgetary Considerations:

If you are working with a limited budget, leaning on internal resources will allow more of your budget to go toward working media. However, if you have a more substantial budget, a full-service agency may be the way to go. They can provide comprehensive support, additional capabilities, and optimization along the way. 

Internal Expertise and Resources:

Does your existing in-house marketing team have the strength and expertise to support specific areas? Or is your team’s experience or skillset limited, requiring significant investment and time in order to find success? Agencies often offer more niche, specialty skillsets that may not make sense to hire in-house.

Your Vision:

Are you looking for rapid expansion? An agency, equipped with experience and best practices, can provide immediate support and scalability. Or, are you are looking for sustainable but slower growth? The brand loyalty and institutional knowledge of an in-house team could be your answer there.


Employees of a full-service marketing agency work in Chicago


In Conclusion:

Remember, the path you choose isn’t set in stone, and it doesn’t have to be a this-or-that decision. You can also leverage a hybrid approach, combining an in-house team with agency support. Ultimately, the decision rests on what empowers you to achieve your marketing goals with confidence and accountability.

The marketing landscape is vast and ever-evolving, requiring adaptability and strategic decision-making. The key to successful marketing lies in understanding your unique requirements and business goals. Once you do, you can find the balance between in-house resources and hiring an agency. That synergy will empower you to achieve your marketing goals with confidence and accountability.


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